Staff SGT Donald Wayne West, Jr., enlisted in the United States Army National Guard on September 11, 2001. As part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Company A of the 150th Combat Engineers served active duty Aug 29, 2004, until Dec 30, 2005. SSGT West returned to college in January, 2006. He married Lauren Ritchie June 9, 2006, at Seaside, Fla., and they have three children. SSGT West completed military service at Camp Minden, LA on Aug 23, 2009.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Day 227 - Good News Sunday

Around the country and around the world, compassionate communities are coming to the aid of hurricane victims.

This morning, here in Hot Springs, we attended the dedication of Champion Baptist College, an outreach of Gospel Light Baptist Church. The largest first year independent Baptist College to open since 1974, the school has enrolled students from 21 states and three foreign countries. Pastor Eric Capaci applauded the faithfulness of the congregation which has supported the growing assembly from its roots as a handful of people meeting in a cinderblock storefront in 1992 to its current average attendance of 1000 per Sunday on a 14-acre site in Mid-town.

During lunch at Cracker Barrel, we enjoyed visiting with the Brooks and Orsack families, names synonymous with Brookhill Ranch, where Wayne attended summer camp from the 3rd through 9th grades.

While Myron and I napped after lunch, Wayne and Lauren watched The Notebook, a sweeping love story told by a man reading from his faded notebook.
By late afternoon, we headed off for an evening with Ellen and Bill Walker, the precious Soldiers’ Angels who organized a shipment of 27 goodie boxes to Wayne’s unit earlier this year. Ever since then, the Walkers have kept pictures of SGT West and Lauren on their bar.

“Everybody who has been a guest here this year has toasted to Wayne’s safety and well-being,” says Mama Ellen. “We’ll continue to do that until he returns home for good.” Captain Bill, himself a veteran of World War II, took us on a party barge ride to view the gorgeous sunset over Lake Hamilton before returning to their lovely deck for grilled steaks and shrimp by candlelight.

Truly a Good News Sunday.